This article is part of our Dragon Ball FighterZ series.
Since the release of Dragon Ball FighterZ in January, Goichi “GO1” Kishida has won every single tournament he’s entered. Final Round 2018, NorCal Regionals 2018, Canada Cup Master Series, Stunfest 2018 - all wins. Not to mention all of the local tournaments that GO1 wins so frequently that people have said they’re “not fun” anymore. Simply put, he’s an unstoppable juggernaut. Rather, he was until Combo Breaker 2018 changed everything.
Many figured that he and Dominique “SonicFox” McLean would probably meet in the grand finals yet again, but few gave SonicFox a chance. Sure, Fox had a new team since the two last met and had been winning his fair share of events as well (events that Goichi didn’t attend, of course), but Goichi was undefeated in terms of winning tournaments. He dropped one set to Ryo “Dogura” Nozaki in the winners’ semifinals of Final Round (the only set he’s lost in all four of those tournaments listed above), but still ended up winning the whole thing.
Against those odds, though, SonicFox beat Goichi not once, but twice, to win Combo Breaker 2018. Just how did he manage to do this? Let’s break it down.
In a general sense, SonicFox simply looked like he had his swagger back. If you look at his matches with Goichi at Final Round and the Esports Arena exhibition, the two show completely different SonicFoxes. In the past, he looked timid and unassertive in the way that we’re used to seeing. He wasn’t winning the scrambles and, all around, just looked unsure of himself. Goichi always had the upper hand, which put SonicFox on the back foot constantly.
At Combo Breaker, however, it came down to SonicFox’s new team of Kid Buu, Gotenks, and Cell. The trio allowed Fox to put the pressure on his opponent and create advantageous situations. The 50-50’s (when your opponent has to make a guess about whether your next attack with be low or high) that SonicFox forced Goichi into allowed Fox to break through Goichi’s defense in a manner that pretty much no one has managed to do.
We’re used to seeing this when Goichi is playing.
But instead, we saw this with regularity Sunday night.
In situations where Goichi would usually be impossible to open up, SonicFox did so with ease. While Fox’s Cell was definitely a problem for Goichi at times (I’ve talked at length about how strong Cell is), it was the Gotenks that was really a problem.
Just take a look at a single sequence from the second game of the grand finals reset. Goichi had taken down two of SonicFox’s characters, leaving him with just Gotenks against Goichi’s Bardock, Cell, and Vegeta. Despite the deficit, SonicFox calmly took down all three without even getting hit one time.
At just about every turn, he was able to open Goichi up without breaking a sweat. Whether it was with an empty low, Dragon Rush, or just a simple Instant Air Dash into a low, Goichi always guessed wrong and SonicFox made him pay at every turn. SonicFox did well to stay on the aggressive, which ended up being too much for Goichi to handle. After all, solid defense can only hold off for so long when you’ve got someone like SonicFox in your face constantly.
This upset was more than just SonicFox making the right plays and being generally aggressive, though, it was Goichi simply looking shaken. He’s a player that usually makes every correct decision; rarely leaving himself open or dropping combos. From the very beginning of their first bout in the winners’ finals, Goichi looked off. With the two scrambling towards the end of the round and down to their last character, Goichi had SonicFox dead to rights...until he dropped a combo.
Instead of jumping forward towards SonicFox, Goichi jumped back, allowing SonicFox to recover and take out Goichi’s final character to take an early 1-0 lead in the series. That play, in my opinion, was the biggest one of the entire night.
Goichi is simply used to always being the one to control the pace. Even when these guys faced off a few months back, Goichi that dictated how each round went. From the outset of the winners’ finals, though, SonicFox was pushing Goichi like no one has to date. Goichi was in uncharted territory, and it forced him to make a crucial mistake in the form of that dropped combo.
Now, it’s true that he eventually came back and reset the grand finals bracket with a 3-1 win. The minute the reset got underway, though, SonicFox again was on the offensive. Goichi didn’t get a single win during that set, even when he was up 3-vs-1 against SonicFox’s Gotenks.
Even in the final moments, SonicFox managed to easily get through the vaunted Goichi defense with a textbook empty low.
SonicFox is back, y’all. He’s got a new team and playing with a level of confidence that we haven’t seen in some time. The question will be whether he can keep this form up. We won’t have to wait long, as the two will face off a few more times during the Summit of Power next weekend. You have to expect that Goichi will be in the lab constantly to tighten up his play a bit, but will it be enough to take back his crown as the best DBFZ player in the game? I can’t wait to find out.